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Training Camp Update
Volume 1, Issue 3 – 8/16/05
Training Camps are in full swing and we want you to feel like you have attended every practice and seen every preseason game.
To keep all our Footballguys subscribers on top of everything, we've created our incredibly detailed Camp Updates. They're an exhaustive look each week covering every bit of news you need to know to stay completely on top of every team. Quite simply, they're the key to Dominating Your Draft.
This is the third of five training camp updates from us. We'll break down every team's skill positions and position battles. It's the stuff you'd see if you were there at every camp. This Camp Update was created by our own Bob Henry and reflects the most up-to-date info regarding each of these teams.
Happy reading and let's have a great 2005 season,
Joe Bryant and David Dodds
QB: Warner’s playing great in camp thus far, but of course he’s not seeing any sort of a live pass rush either. Coach Dennis Green expressed serious concern about Warner’s immobility after the Cardinals lost their starting center Alex Stepanovich (hand) and RT Oliver Ross (knee/ankle) to injuries this week. Neither played against Dallas, but Ross returned to practice Thursday sporting a black brace on the knee. Ross’ injury isn’t serious according to Green. In Saturday’s exhibition game Warner was very effective going 14-of-19 for 151 yards and a 31 yd TD pass to Larry Fitzgerald. Josh McCown was 4-of-9 for 33 yards while throwing an interception. John Navarre completed 3-of-4 for 21 yards. Earlier this week, Navarre was knocked to the ground when DE Chike Okeafor hit him from behind in 11-on-11 drills. Some words were exchanged, but it was dismissed as unintentional. Okeafor said he was pushed from behind, following a heated exchange between players.
RB: Rookie J.J. Arrington continues to impress in training camp displaying good speed and conditioning. He and Marcel Shipp split carries in their first game-like scrimmage, but Shipp didn’t play against the Cowboys on Saturday. Troy Hambrick’s grip on a roster spot remains tenuous considering he’s not been practicing because of his injured foot. The additions of James Jackson and J.R. Redmond create a bigger pinch for Hambrick. The Cardinals waived RBs Larry Croom and Roger Robinson on Thursday. Arrington, Damien Anderson, James Jackson, J.R. Redmond and Josh Scobey all got some work against the Cowboys. Nobody in particular stood out though Anderson led all rushers with 22 yards on 4 carries. Oddly his longest run was 22 yards.
WR: One of the best performers in camp thus far has been third year receiver Bryant Johnson. Warner connected with him on several occasions in practice including a 45 yard TD in last Saturday’s mock game. Warner said he expects big things from Johnson this year. “I am excited about him,” Warner said. “It’s funny that everybody wants to talk about Larry (Fitzgerald) and Q (Anquan Boldin) and rightfully so, but somehow B.J. gets lost in the mix somewhere. He is going to surprise a lot of people. It is already showing up right now…the burst that he has, the speed, the stride. It is tough to cover a guy that has a stride and speed like he does. He gets on you very fast. I think it will be a great season for him.” Meanwhile, Anquan Boldin returned to practice Thursday sporting a protective shield. The doctors wouldn’t clear Boldin to practice without wearing the shield. "I can see through it, but you don't get no air," Boldin said. "You have to get used to breathing in it, but it will be all right." Boldin did not play in Saturday’s game against Dallas. With Boldin out, Fitzgerald had a big game with a 31 yard TD from Warner (5 receptions for 81 yards on the day). Johnson had 3 catches for 36 yards including a 20 yarder.
TE: The Cardinals added “Mr. Irrelevant” Andy Stokes from the 2005 NFL draft this week to help bolster their depth and competition with Eric Edwards sidelined by a right pectoral muscle tear suffered last week. Stokes was cut by the Patriots and claimed by the Cardinals off waivers. Stokes joins a group of five other inexperienced players competing for the starting job – rookie Adam Bergen, NFL Europe’s Bobby Blizzard, John Bronson and Aaron Golliday. Edwards was considered the slight favorite prior to his injury. Bergen caught a pass against Dallas that went for 18 yards on Saturday. Keep an eye on Bergen as a guy who might emerge in the early weeks of the season as a deep sleeper if he wins the starting job.
Defense: On Wednesday, the Cardinals signed first round pick CB Antrel Rolle to a 6 year, $43 million contract ending an eight day holdout. Green dismissed Rolle’s prolonged absence noting he participated in all 14 voluntary team workouts during the off-season and “isn’t too far behind the learning curve”. Rolle immediately made his presence felt in his first day of practice diving to knock down a throw to Charles Lee on an out pattern in 11-on-11 drills in the afternoon. Warner commented, “As a quarterback, having a (cornerback) who is quick and fast and has size is always a problem. A lot of times, you’ll find one or the other. You find a big guy who isn’t as fast, you can exploit that, or a little guy who is quick, but you can do some things with bigger receivers. The combination of the two always makes it harder.” Rookie safety Ernest Shazor finally reported to camp this week.
Dennis Green must like what he’s seeing from his rookie tandem of LBs Darryl Blackstock and Lance Mitchell. Both are running with the second team in practice. Blackstock, a third round pick, is playing behind Karlos Dansby at SLB while Mitchell, a fifth rounder, is backing up Gerald Hayes in the middle. Green’s has a long-standing reputation as an offensive minded coach, but make no mistake about it. The Cardinals defense has undergone a metamorphosis under him. They’re younger, faster and backed by a potentially strong pass rush. Keep an eye on their production in their pre-season games. The defensive line is off to a good start as Bertrand Berry, Chike Okeafor and Calvin Pace all recorded sacks against Dallas. Pace has two sacks while Okeafor forced a fumble.
Special Teams: In the game against Dallas, PK Neil Rackers connected on his only FG attempt (41 yards). He also flaunted his leg strength on kickoffs of 70, 73, and 74 yards (including a touchback). Relative newcomer RB J.R. Redmond may have helped his chances of making the team with some strong return work. He had two punt returns (15.0 average) and took a kickoff return 48 yards. Rookie WR Dan Sheldon is still in the hunt for the PR job with his two returns (10.0 average). Incumbent kickoff returner RB Josh Scobey had one return for 16 yards. RB Larry Croom, who was also competing for the top KR position, was released by the team this week.
Cardinals Depth Chart
QB Kurt Warner, Josh McCown, John Navarre
RB J.J. Arrington, Marcel Shipp, Troy Hambrick, James Jackson, J.R. Redmond, Josh Scobey (KR/3RB), Damien Anderson
FB James Hodgins (inj), Obafemi Ayanbadejo, Harold Morrow, Casey Moore
WR Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Bryant Johnson, Charles Lee, Lawrence Hamilton, Reggie Newhouse, Dan Sheldon (KR/PR), Fabian Davis, LeRon McCoy, Carlyle Holiday
TE Eric Edwards (inj), Bobby Blizzard, Adam Bergen, John Bronson, Aaron Golliday, Andy Stokes
K Neil Rackers
DE Bertrand Berry, Chike Okeafor, Peppi Zellner, Calvin Pace, Antonio Smith, Tyler King
DT Darnell Dockett, Russell Davis (NT), Kenny King (inj), Ross Kolodziej, Tim Bulman, DeVone Claybrooks, Keith Wright
MLB Gerald Hayes, Lance Mitchell, Greg Carothers
OLB Karlos Dansby (S), Orlando Huff (W), James Darling (W), Darryl Blackstock (W/S), Eric Johnson, Isaac Keys (W), Isaiah Ekejiuba (S)
CB David Macklin, Antrel Rolle, Eric Green, Robert Tate, Rhett Nelson, Raymond Walls, Aaron Francisco, Jermaine Hardy
S Adrian Wilson (SS), Robert Griffith (FS), Ifeanyi Ohalete (FS), Quentin Harris (FS), Adrian Mayes (SS), Ernest Shazor (SS)
QB: Following last week’s American Bowl in Tokyo, Michael Vick said he feels more comfortable in his second season playing in the West Coast offense. Head Coach Jim Mora commented the first team offense performed well against the Colts and the fluidity and familiarity they showed was a promising sign. Vick seems focused on improving as a passer and hopes the team’s offense will begin to take flight this year, especially if he can make teams respect him downfield. He didn’t play much against Baltimore throwing three passes and completing two of them for 32 yards, but he also lost a fumble. Matt Schaub got the bulk of the work but was less than impressive completing 6-of-16 for 86 yards. Ty Detmer was 7-of-13 for 79 yards and an 18 yard TD pass to TE Mark Anelli.
RB: T.J. Duckett continues to work hard at improving in two key areas – pass protection and catching the ball out of the backfield. If he’s able to show he’s improved in both areas then the Falcons might finally begin to make use of him as a receiver, too. Warrick Dunn has shown no signs of slowing down thus far, but it’s inevitable at some point and Duckett’s long been waiting in the wings for a greater opportunity. Nobody overly impressed Saturday against Baltimore with Dunn, Duckett and rookie DeAndra Cobb all getting several carries. Dunn started the game and finished with 5 carries for 19 yards. Duckett managed only 22 yards on 7 carries. Cobb had an 11 yard run but finished with only 17 yards on 9 attempts. Justin Griffith had a solid game at fullback with an 18 yard reception and a four yard run.
WR: Coach Mora expressed a desire to get the ball into the hands of first round pick WR Roddy White, but noted that following a six day holdout he’s pretty far behind and may have a difficult time working his way into the offense anytime soon. So, Mora wants to see White as a kick returner. “I'm cool with it,” White said. “I've got to try to make some plays however they want me to. Whatever they want me to do; I'll go out there and do it.” That said, White’s talents are obvious and he stood out at times since joining the Falcons in camp. It probably won’t be too long before he’s making a push to be a regular part of the offense, too. He did catch 4 passes against the Ravens for 29 yards, but landed awkwardly on his right foot while making a catch in fourth quarter. Meanwhile, there are rumors that Peerless Price could be cut prompting innuendo that he could end up in Philly. Michael Jenkins appears to be set as one starter while Dez White and Roddy White will likely vie for the other spot. Brian Finneran will likely be among the top 4 WRs as well.
TE: Alge Crumpler didn’t play against the Colts in Tokyo last week, but he and FB Justin Griffith returned to practice. "[Crumpler's] knee swelled up a little bit over there," Mora said. "That turf was a little bit hard, and with the long flight . . . with he and Justin we just decided not to play them." TE Eric Beverly was also cleared to practice and make physical contact, but didn’t play against Baltimore in Saturday night’s game. Dwayne Blakley could be a deep sleeper in the event of an injury. The young tight end played well in the preseason opener catching 3 passes for 47 yards – including a nice 36 yard reception.
Defense: DE Patrick Kerney is focused on getting himself healthy and back on the field. After Wednesday’s practice Kerney said, “"Every drill I start into now, I'm going to be pacing myself into it so I don't just go all out. Each day, I'll pick up the percentage that much more and then over the next three of four days I'll be at 100 percent and maybe be able to go next week.” DE Brady Smith is making good progress since undergoing neck surgery in June. He thinks he’s ahead of schedule and was originally thought to be out until sometime in September. "Brady …looked like he was running really well," Mora said. "In talking to him after practice, it's his hope that he'll get some snaps in that last preseason game [Sept. 1] at Miami." Safety Bryan Scott was cleared for contact and was back in the mix last Tuesday. "They tried to limit me to that [10 hits]," Scott said with a smile. "It was more than that. It felt good; we'll see how I feel tomorrow. Oh man, the days were getting long on the sideline. Some would say, 'Enjoy it, rest your legs,' but this is the time to be on the field." Rookie WLB Michael Boley, running with the second team, stood out at times in practice this week. He made some plays in pass coverage breaking up a couple throws while backup SLB Ike Reese forced two fumbles.
Special Teams: PK Todd Peterson connected on FGs of 27, 29, and 34 yards against Baltimore. He missed a 46 yarder wide left. Backup QB Matt Schaub appears to have nailed down the holder job. The Falcons indicated that last year’s PR/KR specialist CB Allen Rossum will probably just handle punt returns and defensive work this year. He didn’t have any returns in this week’s game. Rookie WR Cole Manger had two impressive returns (21.5 average), and rookie WR Brian Bratton returned one for four yards. The now available KR spot could end up in the hands of a rookie. WR Roddy White returned a kickoff 27 yards and RB DeAndra Cobb had a 15 yard return.
Falcons Depth Chart
QB Michael Vick, Matt Schaub, Ty Detmer, Bryan Randall
RB Warrick Dunn (3RB), T.J. Duckett (SD), Jason Wright, Deandra Cobb (KR), T.A. McClendon, Marlion Jackson
FB Justin Griffith, Fred McCrary, Carey Davis, Kevin Dudley
WR Michael Jenkins, Dez White, Peerless Price, Roddy White, Brian Finneran, Kendrick Mosley, Romby Bryant, Lawrence Bady, Cole Magner, Kerry Johnson, Will Pettis
TE Alge Crumpler, Dwayne Blakely, Eric Beverly, Mark Anelli, Brian Casey
K Todd Peterson, Ryan Rossner
DE Patrick Kerney, Brady Smith (inj), Brandon Mitchell (DT), Junior Glymph, Chauncey Davis, Khaleed Vaughn, Erik Flowers, Gabe Nyenhuis, Anthony Herron, Otis Grigsby
DT Rod Coleman, Chad Lavalais (NT), Jonathan Babineaux, Antwan Lake, Darrell Shropshire
MLB Edgerton Hartwell, Jordan Beck
OLB Keith Brooking (W), Demorrio Williams (S), Ike Reese (S/W), Michael Boley, Adrian Archie (W), John Leake (S), Michael Brown (S), Derrick Tinsley, Hannibal Thomas
CB Jason Webster, DeAngelo Hall, Kevin Mathis, Allen Rossum (KR), Christian Morton, Byron Jones
S Bryan Scott (FS), Keion Carpenter (SS), Ronnie Heard (SS/FS), Rich Coady (FS), Kevin McAdam (FS), Ettric Pruitt (FS), Shawn Mayer (FS)
QB: There is no QB controversy in Baltimore, at least not yet, but backup Anthony Wright is playing just as well, if not better, than starter Kyle Boller. Third stringer Derek Anderson, a rookie from Oregon State, continues to impress, too. He lacks knowledge of the offense and appears hesitant at times but has great arm strength and showed it on a 40 yard bomb in Thursday’s practice. Boller’s been good and bad in camp thus far. He threw a perfect 22 yard TD pass on a corner route to Derrick Mason last Tuesday. Unfortunately, on the next play he looked off a receiver on the same side then froze and didn’t know where to go with the ball. Had it been a game situation Boller likely would’ve had his bell rung. Boller didn’t look particularly good in the preseason game against Atlanta either completing 5-of-9 for 57 yards and an interception. Anthony Wright was just as bad completing only 4-of-15 for 50 yards. Anderson lost a fumble and threw an interception in what served as a reality check for the rookie after having some strong practices early in the week.